I found copies of the story below when I was cleaning out my dad’s house last year. (Describing him as a “hoarder” is understatement.) I think I wrote it in sixth grade or so.
My family was relatively poor when I was a kid—welfare, food stamps, hand-me-down clothing, and chewed-up or broken toys from the Salvation Army were the norm. That wasn’t unusual in my neighborhood. But I was painfully aware from the commercials on TV and the stories from classmates that this was not how some kids lived, and I was envious. So, so envious. I dreamt of unwrapping the most incredible gifts on Christmas morning: remote-controlled cars, Rubik’s Cubes, Easy Bake Ovens, cameras, Lego space sets, Power Wheels…Omg, Power Wheels! I’d be the most stuntin’ Power Wheels driver EVER. I’d win Power Wheels competitions! Everyone would admire my amazing Power Wheels skills. If only I had a Power Wheels truck, I knew my life would be THE BEST. Such were my covetous Walter Mitty dreams.
But we never got much of anything for Christmas. One year, my sisters and I each received a Dollar Store-quality bronze bracelet. Another year, my dad gave me three packs of bubble gum (Hubba Bubba and Bubblicious brands, in blueberry, watermelon, and grape). I don’t know if the fact that he was Jewish had anything to do with our meager Christmases, and it didn’t really matter. All I knew was that for all of my hopes and nearly-tangible wishes of presents under our little plastic tree, we weren’t getting any of the things I saw on TV and in store windows, the things I imagined other little kids got for Christmas, because we were poor.
I wrote the story for some class assignment after I grew out of the worst of the covetous-little-kid phase. Here it is, transcribed, errors and all.
The Boy that Santa Forgot
by Debbie Goddard
At 2406 Tyler Street, no happiness was found. Michael, who was only seven years old, felt miserable. He just found he would not get any presents this Christmas. At first he wasn’t surprised because, in the area he lived in, nobody ever got presents except for a few lucky people. After all, when you live in the slums, presents are few.
Michael asked his mom for breakfast the next morning. He received the typical toast and piece of cheese with a cup of water. He felt like he could use more, but he ignored the feeling. His family lived on food stamps. There was no more food to be found. After breakfast he just took a nap. There was nothing else to do.
On Christmas Eve he became angry again. Why couldn’t even receive a … anything! He wished so hard that night that he could receive any little thing at all.
The next morning when he awoke he found a dollar underneath his pillow. He knew his mom had placed it there. He thought of all the wonderful things he could buy. A dollar was a lot! Suddenly, all in a rush, it came to him that his mother had to give up many things to give him the dollar. He marched into his mother’s room and selflessly gave it to her. She hugged him and cried. He knew the real meaning of Christmas was not to share presents, but to share love.